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Compulsive gambler or gambling addiction - what's the difference?

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#1 Posted on:
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 11:12



Been thinking about this one.

My story is I gambled irresponsibly for 4 months losing about £6000. I showed all the characteristics of complusive gambling  - loss chasing, inability to stop until i ran out of money in my account, secrecy, gambling more than i was comfortable losing. This was aged 48 after no previous irresponsible gambling. This suggests to me that during this period I was a compulsive gambler. I also accept that if i did ever gamble again then I would very likely gamble in a similarly disasterous way.

Currently I have no desire to gamble again. I know this could change at any time so have no plans to release any of the blocks I have in place. I am excluded from the sites I was using and as soon as it is available I will use the new facility to exclude from all gambling sites. I have no unsupervised access to money. I am also an extremely determined (stubborn my wife says!) person who once they decide something rarely deviates from that decision or course of action.

So my question is, if I never want to gamble again, do I have a gambling addiction or am I some who would gamble compulsively if they did gamble so choses not to?

I only ponder this because my counsellor asked me at my last session if I thought I had a gambling problem and it has been mulling round in my mind ever since. I am obviously someone who can't gamble "like a normal person" and just gamble a budgeted affordable amount and then just walk away whether i win or lose but if based on this knowledge I decide never to gamble again, does this still make me an addict?

Not sure if it makes any difference but I did have the odd social bet before the four month period but none of that was online casino games and I never had any trouble walking away from that, in fact I actually became bored a couple of times playing live roulette and walked away having neither really won or lost. Online casinos did really hook me in very quickly. 

Think I am going round in circles here! Does anyone get what I am saying or shall I just shut up?!!


Posted on:
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 15:32

Merry go round


Hi muststop the point of the question is to make you look at your behaviour. If we tell you what we think then you haven't done the thinking, the soul searching. In reality it's all about saying something in a different way. Problem or compulsive? Do you see a difference? Do you have a problem? If you think you don't what then? Into the unknown. Gambling is designed to be addictive, natural reaction is give me my money back. Is it a game of luck or skill? Is it about the money or the feeling? The list of questions is endless. 

Posted on:
Sun, 03/12/2017 - 19:34



Problem gambler or asked to yourself do you have a problem with gambling? The answer would obviously be yes.  

Are you an addict is a yes and no answer. 

If per say you were still gambling which you’re not you would be addicted, as you’re still using aswell as dependant on it . Like drugs when you wean off your no longer dependant on it.

You’ll always be a compulsive gambler , meaning any attempt to bet like a normal person will reignite the fire. So the yes and no  answer applies because addictions never really go away it just lies dormant. 

Although you say you gambled on other products non compulsively the others were the coal to the fire. 

Treat all gambling products the same their all as bad for you as the other and all lead to a place you don’t want to return to .

Posted on:
Mon, 04/12/2017 - 07:26



Hey muststop,

It's an interesting question, I've written about it a little bit myself before.

I think it's not quite the same, I'd say I was a gambling addict for years but it was pretty under control and I was able to enjoy it and roughly stick to a monthly budget. I think anyone who gambles pretty regularly is probably addicted to some degree even if they don't think so themselves.

However once you cross over into compulsive gambling I think that's the end for you and we shouldn't even attempt to gamble normally again.

What frustrates me is that I really think anyone who gambles regularly is at real risk of developing a serious and destructive problem and its these people who probably don't understand just how bad things can get and would think that they have things under control.

But like I said, I think it's way too late for people like us to think that we can one day gamble responsibly again.

Posted on:
Mon, 04/12/2017 - 09:16



Thanks for the replies all. Some interesting stuff.

Think I as MGR says I probably missed the point of the question totally and need to do more thinking myself. He was not asking if I was a complusive gambler (yes) or if I am a gambling addict (not sure, I think not but time will prove me right or wrong on this one), he was asking if I had a gambling problem which I think the answer must be yes as I can't behave rationally when it comes to gambling.

To be clear, this is not some ridiculous attempt to justify or rationalise me ever being able gamble in any format at some time in the future. I appreciate I may have to fight future urges or desires to gamble in the future (in which case the addict question will be answered) and am ready to do this but I am not going to allow myself to have any grey areas of confusion. Total abstainance from all forms of gambling is, I think, the only path for me which fits in nicely with my desire never to give them another penny. 



Posted on:
Wed, 06/12/2017 - 20:36



Compulsion is a narrower term but its the same as addiction really when its out of control. I see them as the same thing really..My compulsion to play fast turned into a full blown addiction. A dangerous compulsion of repeat behaviour is an addiction but we are talking about the addictions which harm us the most like gambling alcohol and other drugs. Gambling acts like a drug as far as Im concerned

I am a machine addict and I use that in the present tense despite having stopped for a reasonably long time. When I want to tone it down to certain people  I say a gambling problem or a compulsive gambler.

 Please dont fear the word addict when tackling a gambling addiction. I cant stand at a machine in the same way that recovering alcoholics cant have that first drink again. I know of people that just cant drink again or it leads to a week long binge. I see gambling in the same way and believe it works just as a craving for a substance does.

We are all on the scale of addiction as we are neuron paths and chemical pleasure centres. There is a friendly compulsion say for a videogame as long as Im not using the time I need to spend working. Its when compulsion turns to addiction but other things I use to escape didnt nearly leave me homeless and suicidal without massive bailouts. Some people cant stop buying shoes but there is very little more dangerous than a gambling addiction. Part of the complex mix is the feeling that its all going to be ok when chasing losses.

A compulsive gambler wasting essential money is an addict. I think its important that any grey areas of thought are ironed out because a gambling addiction loves to play on doubt. I though I could control it by willpower when I first joined the forum. I found that willpower alone just didnt work.

Best wishes to everyone on the forum

Posted on:
Thu, 21/12/2017 - 15:38



Personally I see no difference in myself. I'm a problem gambler because I chase losses (to me that's a problem) and I'm addicted to gambling to try make money (fail).

Posted on:
Tue, 26/12/2017 - 22:44



I've been using the buddhist method of practising meditation to experience the 'no-thing' or 'nothing'. As long as I'm doing 'nothing' I'm not gambling & feeling good about it, so I won't give myself permission to gamble cos it would ruin the feeling of doing nothing. Highly recommend this as it's been working for me for 7 years.


Posted on:
Tue, 02/01/2018 - 19:26



In my experience a lot depends how addicted a person is.  There's many gamblers who can gamble and then leave it alone, many gamblers who suffer a bit but there's also the few percent of gamblers who are highly addicted.  For me there is a massive difference in the scale of those who gamble and how it affects them. 

Posted on:
Mon, 22/01/2018 - 14:20



Hi. And thanks for the comment.
I think like you I ask the same question.
Addictive or compulsive.
I think I'm more on the compulsive side.
Gambled irresponsibly years ago. Lost a lot in quick succession.
Then never had the urge.
Until I used online systems.
Then lost chase and lost more.
I have no urge to gamble but ashamed of what I've done.
I don't think it's about the addiction as it's not something I need.
I have stopped but and have no fear about using the sites again. I know I won't.
For me it was the excitement of the win. But that made me greedy.
So hence the chase bigger odds bigger stakes.
Impulsivity is in us all regardless of our poison.
It's helped reading the posts on here and the opinions.